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how do i copyright instrumental seperate from vocs?
Old 13th September 2006
  #1
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how do i copyright instrumental seperate from vocs?

I have been trying to figure this out for some time and still do not have a definitive answer so i am looking for more insight. my sister is a lawyer and can help some, but she does not really know music law. This may be asking too much to get answers, but it's worth a try.

here is the scenario...
i am producing instrumental tracks that i later have a vocalist write to. we are going to release these tracks as an album and i need to maintain full control of my instrumentals. Actually some of the instrumentals have already been previously licensed.

I would like to copyright the songs and set up writing/publishing agreements correctly, but am not quite sure exactly which forms/agreement i need. I think my question is two fold. firstly what forms should i file with the copyright office and secondly what do i need in terms of agreements to establish splits?

i believe we should file 4 seperate copyrights with the copyright office for each instrumental and full version song pair:

1) "song 1(instrumental)" SR- registered to me
2) "song 1 full mix" SR-register to me and rapper
3)"song 1" music PA-registered to me
4)"song 1" lyrics PA-registered to rapper

What I wonder is how the copyright office would cross reference these seperate filings. It seems like this would really be two seperate copyrights for the same underlying composition, one named "song 1(instrumental)" and the other named "song 1"

Maybe i could register "song 1(instrumental)" as the primary work and "song 1" as a derivitive work.

The second part of this question is how do i establish percentage splits? The copyright forms do not specify who owns what percentages just who the different parties are. Do i simply spell this out in a seperate publishing agreement saying who has what percentage of writers share and who has publishing shares in the songs and the sound recording?

I would really truly appreciate hearing from people that have dealt with this previously, have researched it, or have breadcrumbs of information that i could follow up on.

Also let's assume people understand the basic principles of performance rights, publishing, mechanicals, master ownership and print rights. I am really looking for a pragmatic solution. i.e. file forms x,y and z. draft a writers agreement stating xyz, etc.

And yes you can definitely copyright an instrumental.

I think sorting this out could be very helpful to a lot of people, so hopefully people will chime in.

Thanks in advance for any help. I'm trying to know exactly what I am trying to do before sitting down with a entertainment lawyer.
Old 13th September 2006
  #2
Quote:
Originally Posted by quincyg View Post
I have been trying to figure this out for some time and still do not have a definitive answer so i am looking for more insight. my sister is a lawyer and can help some, but she does not really know music law. This may be asking too much to get answers, but it's worth a try.

here is the scenario...
i am producing instrumental tracks that i later have a vocalist write to. we are going to release these tracks as an album and i need to maintain full control of my instrumentals. Actually some of the instrumentals have already been previously licensed.

I would like to copyright the songs and set up writing/publishing agreements correctly, but am not quite sure exactly which forms/agreement i need. I think my question is two fold. firstly what forms should i file with the copyright office and secondly what do i need in terms of agreements to establish splits?

i believe we should file 4 seperate copyrights with the copyright office for each instrumental and full version song pair:

1) "song 1(instrumental)" SR- registered to me
2) "song 1 full mix" SR-register to me and rapper
3)"song 1" music PA-registered to me
4)"song 1" lyrics PA-registered to rapper

What I wonder is how the copyright office would cross reference these seperate filings. It seems like this would really be two seperate copyrights for the same underlying composition, one named "song 1(instrumental)" and the other named "song 1"

Maybe i could register "song 1(instrumental)" as the primary work and "song 1" as a derivitive work.

The second part of this question is how do i establish percentage splits? The copyright forms do not specify who owns what percentages just who the different parties are. Do i simply spell this out in a seperate publishing agreement saying who has what percentage of writers share and who has publishing shares in the songs and the sound recording?

I would really truly appreciate hearing from people that have dealt with this previously, have researched it, or have breadcrumbs of information that i could follow up on.

Also let's assume people understand the basic principles of performance rights, publishing, mechanicals, master ownership and print rights. I am really looking for a pragmatic solution. i.e. file forms x,y and z. draft a writers agreement stating xyz, etc.

And yes you can definitely copyright an instrumental.

I think sorting this out could be very helpful to a lot of people, so hopefully people will chime in.

Thanks in advance for any help. I'm trying to know exactly what I am trying to do before sitting down with a entertainment lawyer.

You can file PA when you write your parts/melodies. Then SR when you make your Sound Recording of the track. Then you own 100% ond control them 100%.

Give the track a title, say Super Groove.

Let rapper write and rap and then put in writing whatever splits or deal you want. Then when you release that, it's a derivative work an you have new copyrights for both the sound recording and the underlying song.
Old 13th September 2006
  #3
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I generally use the SR form to register instrumental works. This is accomplished by the author of the music describing the copyrightable material as "music and sound recording", while omitting the reference to "words and music" (in the section marked Nature of Authorship).

Using the same SR form, the author of the lyrics would then describe their contribution as "words" or "lyrics" (in the next section marked Nature of Authorship).

You can also register the instrumental music separately.

A simple agreement reduced to writing between you and the lyricist should suffice with regard to your respective shares and contributions to the work. I suggest you have your sister who is an attorney review it.
Old 13th September 2006
  #4
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Caffrey View Post
You can file PA when you write your parts/melodies. Then SR when you make your Sound Recording of the track. Then you own 100% ond control them 100%.

Give the track a title, say Super Groove.

Let rapper write and rap and then put in writing whatever splits or deal you want. Then when you release that, it's a derivative work an you have new copyrights for both the sound recording and the underlying song.
i assume that i as the orignal author would have to sign a release in order to authorize a derivitive work.

also could we name the original instrumental and the new version both "super groove" or would that create administrative problems. i could name one "super groove(instrumental)" and the other "super groove".

ok so say we do that and have created a derivitive work. now we sign with a label and assign our publishing in the derivitive song. wouldn't they assume that they have publishing control over the instrumental too? how do they know that this is a derivitive work? would i have to assign publishing of the instrumental seperately as a seperate agreement with the record company?

and in terms of bmi filing i guess i would file a seperate registration for instrumental and collab song.

Thanks guys.
Old 13th September 2006
  #5
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Caffrey View Post
You can file PA when you write your parts/melodies. Then SR when you make your Sound Recording of the track. Then you own 100% ond control them 100%.

Give the track a title, say Super Groove.

Let rapper write and rap and then put in writing whatever splits or deal you want. Then when you release that, it's a derivative work an you have new copyrights for both the sound recording and the underlying song.
Just spoke with the copyright office and it raised more questions. When you file a copyright for a derivative work only the new material is covered by that copyright. so i think in the scenario you described the derivative work registration would essentially only be registering the lyrics. no new copyright for the underlying song. this may be good or bad. not sure.

an alternative would be for me to file an sr and pa of the instru and composition.
then have the rapper file a pa for the lyrics.

then we simply file a sr for the resulting recording. we could specify that the new work is a "compilation" of existing copyrighted materials. i believe this results in what i am trying to accomplish. although i am not sure what form to use for a "compilation"

now if someone wants the rights to use the combined song they need permission from me for music and vocalist for lyrics. if someone wants to publish the lyrics they only need permission from the vocalist. if someone wants rights to use the music without vocals they only contact me.

if a label wants rights to publishing of the song they would get a release from mc for lyrics and a release from me for the music. and a release from both of us for the Master. I think this could add some administrative difficulty to the publisher as they would have to know that it is split ownership.

Has anyone else dealt with "compilation" vs "derivative work" I really think defining the resulting work as a compilation solves alot of issues. I really can't dtermine whether a "compilation" or "derivative work" creates a partial new copyright for the underlying compositions.
Old 14th September 2006
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by quincyg View Post
Just spoke with the copyright office and it raised more questions. When you file a copyright for a derivative work only the new material is covered by that copyright. so i think in the scenario you described the derivative work registration would essentially only be registering the lyrics. no new copyright for the underlying song. this may be good or bad. not sure.
No. The derivative work is the combination of the music and the lyrics. The "new work" is not the "additional work".
Old 14th September 2006
  #7
Quote:
Originally Posted by quincyg View Post
i assume that i as the orignal author would have to sign a release in order to authorize a derivitive work.

also could we name the original instrumental and the new version both "super groove" or would that create administrative problems. i could name one "super groove(instrumental)" and the other "super groove".

ok so say we do that and have created a derivitive work. now we sign with a label and assign our publishing in the derivitive song. wouldn't they assume that they have publishing control over the instrumental too? how do they know that this is a derivitive work? would i have to assign publishing of the instrumental seperately as a seperate agreement with the record company?

and in terms of bmi filing i guess i would file a seperate registration for instrumental and collab song.

Thanks guys.
In theory, yes, you have to authorize a deriviative work. I think handing a rapper and insturmental CD and goingot the studio with him while he records would probably suffice.

I don't understand why you'd have any questions about song titles. How would it ever benefit you to have you insturmental track have the same name as the final track? Additionally, if you've written the music in advance what are the odds that yout title will mathc the rapper's title? Have two different names anyting you could possibly need to do by having the same name can covered with a sentence to two on a piece of paper.

Let's skip to the BMI filing - yesm you'd have two separate names. That's a common hack that people use to get performance right's organizations to split incomes on non-exclusive deals. Let one publisher use the song under one name and another uses a different name and that way the PRO does the work of splitting incomes by tracking the use absed on the name.

As far as the following:
"ok so say we do that and have created a derivitive work. now we sign with a label and assign our publishing in the derivitive song. wouldn't they assume that they have publishing control over the instrumental too? how do they know that this is a derivitive work? would i have to assign publishing of the instrumental seperately as a seperate agreement with the record company?"

The way it works is you start with a blank piece of paper and you agree to whatever you want. If you sing with a label and assign your publishing, there were be wording in the contract. Most likely there will be woring where you guarantee that the songs are free of encumberances or something that implies that they have control over the instrumental. If you don't want it to work that way, have them change the wording or don't sign the contract. Or, they'll have leverage over you becuase you really want the deal and you'll agree to their terms becuase you don't have the leverage not to.

The way it works is however you want it it to from the moement you author the orignal work. You could let the rapper use your track on the condition that he gives you partial or even 100% lyric writing credit. Your split with him could be 100% of the derivative work goes to you and 0% to him - assuming that you ahve the leverage that will make him want to agree.

So, in all cases, what's agreed to is a function of who has the most leverage and as the author of the original work Nothing will move forward without your consent. Keepin ming, you may not have the leverage to say anything but.
Old 14th September 2006
  #8
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Caffrey View Post
No. The derivative work is the combination of the music and the lyrics. The "new work" is not the "additional work".
Mike,
Thanks for the responses. Actually the derivative work is only the new material, be it a new sound recording or lyrics added to an existing instrumental. Here is a quote from the copyright office website:

"Copyright Protection in a Derivative Work

The copyright in a derivative work covers only the additions, changes, or other new material appearing for the first time in the work. It does not extend to any preexisting material and does not imply a copyright in that material."

So if you create a derivative work even with permission, the original owner still has authority over their part of the underlying composition. Unless they signed over all rights to their portion of the underlying comp.

It seems like the bottom line with splits of copyright and publishing is that the two parties have to come to an agreement, otherwise you may or may not have created a joint work. For example if a band comes up with a jam and they know it needs a melody and lyrics so a singer comes along and adds them. without and agreement in writing they would have a good shot at claiming that the result is a joint work. Furthermore without an agreement the whole composition would be split evenly between all of the band members and vocalists. This is why it has to be put in writing and clearly. I am now kind of stuck as to put it in writing as a derivative work or a compilation.
Old 16th September 2006
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by quincyg View Post
Mike,
Thanks for the responses. Actually the derivative work is only the new material, be it a new sound recording or lyrics added to an existing instrumental. Here is a quote from the copyright office website:

"Copyright Protection in a Derivative Work

The copyright in a derivative work covers only the additions, changes, or other new material appearing for the first time in the work. It does not extend to any preexisting material and does not imply a copyright in that material."

So if you create a derivative work even with permission, the original owner still has authority over their part of the underlying composition. Unless they signed over all rights to their portion of the underlying comp.

It seems like the bottom line with splits of copyright and publishing is that the two parties have to come to an agreement, otherwise you may or may not have created a joint work. For example if a band comes up with a jam and they know it needs a melody and lyrics so a singer comes along and adds them. without and agreement in writing they would have a good shot at claiming that the result is a joint work. Furthermore without an agreement the whole composition would be split evenly between all of the band members and vocalists. This is why it has to be put in writing and clearly. I am now kind of stuck as to put it in writing as a derivative work or a compilation.
You're interpreting that wrong. If you record a cover of a song (with permission) you own the copyright to that new master. The pre-exisiting material is the song.

Or suppose you use a sample within a recording. You own that stereo mix file you made, but you don't have a claim to any of the pre-existing material liek the vinly record you took it off of.

If you want to try to interpret that as you own 90% of the new stereo mix file, fine, but that's semantics, because there is not way to separate the two. The new work, the derivateve work is that mix file. It seems obvious to me that puting someone else conten in your work doesn't give you a claim to go backwards to their content.

So, you create a track. You give persmission for the artist to use it in a derivative work with the undestanding that the ownership or income split or whatever it is that you want it X. They don't not have any claim to the trak that you let them use, ono the the new work which will be an inseprabel combination of the track + their contributions.

In the end, the default, whter you register the copyright or not, is that you own what your concerned about owning, and that doesn't change until you make an agreement that changes it.

There is no benefit to having the instrument track and the final song having the same or similar title, only the potential for confusion. I think you'd be foolish not to make them have separate names.
Old 16th September 2006
  #10
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I think Mike is referring to the SR form specifically which is mainly for the master recording of the song. If you registered the intellectual part of the instrumental version (i.e. chords and/or melody) then that would be your original copyright of the instrumental song. Then when the lyrics and a new melody are added by someone else, that new version of the song is a derivative.

I think of it like a new recipe. Let's say you invent pepperoni. You now are the pepperoni guy. Somebody else comes along and makes the first ever pizza with it. Well, that new thing is the pizza recipe. Sure it has pepperoni, but it's a whole new flavor explosion. That there's a tasty pizza. Now if somebody wants to use pepperoni, they gotta pay you, the pepperoni guy. If they wanna eat a tasty pizza, they gots ta pay both of yas, the pizza guys.

Hmm, now I'm hungry.

I do a lot of these kind of things 'cuz sometimes I'll write an instrumental thing that'll end up on some tv show and I'll be noodling with it one day later and say, "Hey, that would be sick with some gnarly guitar on it and THIS melody- ooooo badoooo badooodly dip doo dooo!" Next thing ya know my band's got a new track that sounds different from the pepperoni track (I can't stop) and I hafta copyright the derivative. Now the original already has a publishing agreement signed with one publisher and another publisher wants to license the new pizza track. I gotta then divvy up some slices.

For publishing you definitely want to have some collaboration agreements lying around so you can agree on the splits after each derivative is born (or before if you like).

Ok, I make a sleepy now.

Mozzarella!
Old 16th September 2006
  #11
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There are seperate copyrights for the SR and for the underlying composition. These are seperate ownership rights. Although there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding in the real world with regards to this.

For example, if i do a beatle cover i own the SR, but not the composition. I can license the master freely, but do the beatles get a cut? I don't believe so, but I need to reread on this point.
They beatles do definitely have to give permission in the form of a sync license if that track is to be used in a film. In fact if they deny permission for a sync, my SR can't be used.

I gotta get some coffee. Too much too think about this early in the morning.
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